In a few minutes or so, the space shuttle Atlantis should be blasting off, with its four-person crew, on the very last mission of the US Space Shuttle program.
As it prepares to embark upon its final voyage, I thought I’d share a picture from its first voyage, as it was being delivered to NASA following construction.
Kinda neat, this pic. Kinda sad, this day. Its going to be awhile before the US puts its own people into space. I remember as a kid, at my dad’s house I had a cut-away poster of the shuttle, depicting its innards, that hung over my bed. I’ve never seen one up close, and it’ll be nice to get the chance once they’re in museums, but I think I have a pretty strong emotional attachment to the shuttles. So its weird for me to be heading into a world where we aren’t flying these things.
Shame we don’t have a next-generation shuttle entering service to replace our retiring fleet. I think it is something that the international community ought to consider pulling together to develop, construct, and deploy. The Soviet Union built the Buran shuttle shortly before its collapse, and those now sit rusting away. Soon ours will no longer be flight-capable but preserved. We’re losing capability for space exploitation with the retirement of these vehicles. While that capability will probably get restored through private industry at some point, it might be awhile. Currently everything going on there is still in development.
The rest of this blog will be getting added in real time.
Ugh. 31 seconds to launch and now the final countdown is on hold.
Here we go… less than 30 seconds away.
main engines start
it lifted off a second early. 🙂
man, i’m tearing up now.
never seen one fly through a cloud before…. watching it via the cam attached to the fuel tank is neat.
except its having issues, that camera.
solid rocket booster separation, the curve of the earth clear in the background
now everything looks like its at stand still… ah space. 🙂 not quite there yet though.
7700 mph… i can’t comprehend that.
sunrise on its belly.
more than 4 miles per second? even more unfathomable for this earth-bound boy.
main engine cut-off…. the last time they will go silent. ;(
Well, that’s the last time I’ll get to observe that. Perfect launch from what I can tell.
Enjoy your final cruise, Atlantis!
Learn more about the Shuttle Fleet: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43578768/ns/technology_and_science-space/